The rapid spread of coronavirus cases worldwide is complicating a standard strategy used by airlines when disease, disaster or conflict-hit travel destinations: lower fares and redirect flights to trouble-free areas.
For now, some airlines have resorted to suspending change fees for new ticket reservations in the hope of winning over hesitant travelers until it becomes clearer where coronavirus outbreaks are localized and which routes could benefit from price drops.
While lower fares have proven effective in the past in reviving demand, aviation consultant Samuel Engel said, “The pocketbook only works so far against emotion.”
JetBlue Airways, which does not fly to Asia, was the first airline to launch free rebooking options last week, as it became clear that cases were not isolated to China.
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